Dodge's New "Strong Box" for 1971 May 20, 2007 15:38:21 GMT -5
Post by Casey on May 20, 2007 15:38:21 GMT -5
“Time for a Change”
Dodge’s new Strongbox for 1971
Dodge’s new Strongbox for 1971
When introduced in the fall of 1970, the all-new full-size Dodge Tradesman and Sportsman vans were strikingly different from their predecessors, the A–series vans. Almost every part was newly designed and it was obvious just by looking that Dodge’s new vans were pushing the envelope. Gone was the flat-nosed front end with a two-piece windshield, the “forward control” seating position, and the leaf spring-suspended, solid-axle front suspension, replaced by a new, more aerodynamic body design, a more car-like driver and passenger seating position aft of the front wheels, and independent front suspension, a first for Dodge vans. Overall size and payload rating was increased compared to the A-series vans, and a new extended-length bodystyle was introduced, called the Maxivan and Maxiwagon. This new sub-model, based on the 127-inch wheelbase vans, featured an extra 18 inches of body length, which translated into even more cargo or passenger hauling space on the inside, with no decrease in payload capacity. Dodge continued to offer 109-inch and 127-inch wheelbases, both available in three models- B100, B-200, and B-300, with the Maxivan version being available in only the B-200 and B-300 models. Payload ratings of models ranged from 1285 lbs on the 109” wheelbase B-100 to 3855 lbs. for the 127” wheelbase B-300 vans. Eight unique wheelbase and payload combinations could be ordered, tailoring any Dodge van to a customer’s specific needs and desires.
Dodge’s advertising of the day touted these vans as the Dodge “Strong Box”, emphasizing the “31 Strong Advantages” such as larger standard engines, engine-compartment mounted heater, car-like instrument panel, two wheel base choices, “wind-tunnel body shape”, wide-opening doors, concealed safety step in the side cargo door area, power steering and brakes, independent front suspension, and an easy-to-access engine with easily removed cover, to name a few. Dodge left no doubt that its’ vans were the toughest, most flexible vans on the market, and if you were looking to buy a van, Dodge had one that would fit your needs perfectly.
Not all features of the A-series vans were discarded, however, when the B-series vans debuted. Back for 1971 were Dodge’s ultra-dependable slant six (available in 198 and 225 cubic-inch versions) and 318 cubic-inch V8 engines, backed by either a standard three-speed manual or an optional 727 Torqueflite three-speed automatic transmission. Door handles, rear-view mirrors, and engine accessories also made their way from the first Dodge van generation to the second, following the “use it up” mentality of the period at Chrysler Corporation. As with the A-series vans, B-series vans continued to offer a plethora of options to personalize your van to your needs and usage requirements Heavy duty alternators and batteries, anti-spin differentials, ventilating cargo door windows, two-tone paint and chrome trim, bright finish aluminum grille and hubcaps, AM radio, chrome bumpers and much more were all available at extra cost. Thirteen exterior colors were available in ’71, almost guaranteeing you could find a color you’d like.
Considering the substantial differences between the A- and B-series vans, Dodge took a huge step toward modernizing their vans in ’71, more than likely taking some cues from Ford’s re-design of the full-size Econonline vans, which debuted three years earlier in 1968. The true testament to the B-series vans engineering and design is the fact that it’s basic design, though tweaked and adjusted through the years, remained mostly unchanged from its’ introduction in 1971 until B-series van production ended in 2003. A thirty-two year production run of the same basic structure of any vehicle is not only a rarity in automotive history, but shows that Dodge engineers designed a great product from the start- one that didn’t need a complete re-design to remain competitive and fit the needs of its’ customers.
'71 Dodge Tradesman print advertisement: